‘There’s no violation [since] he’s just saying it,’ says Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III
MANILA, Philippines (May 29, 2017) — President Rodrigo Duterte’s threat to ignore Congress and the Supreme Court in the implementation of martial law is “alarming” but the Senate need not act on it.
Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, Duterte’s ally and party mate in PDP-Laban, said this on Monday, May 29, when asked to react to the President’s latest controversial statement.
“Yeah, we are alarmed but we don’t need to act,” Pimentel said in an interview.
Duterte, in a speech before troopers of Joint Task Force Sulu at Camp Teodulfo Bautista in Jolo, Sulu on Saturday, May 27, said only the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippines National Police can tell him to end martial law.
Asked if the statement violates the Constitution, Pimentel, a lawyer by profession, says it does not. “Pagsasalita siguro, hindi pagva-violate pa. Pag mga future, saka na tayo magreact pag tunay [nang] nangyari,” Pimentel added.
(There’s no violation [since] he’s just saying it. Whenever talking about the future, let’s just react if and when it finally happens.)
Malacañang on Monday gave assurances the President did not mean harm when he made the statement.
Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said Duterte’s remarks were only meant to emphasize his trust in the military and police as they implement martial law. “The President meant that those who are truly aware of the situation are the military and the police…It means to say those who have true and accurate reports on which he will depend on will be the military and the Philippine National Police,” said Abella.
Duterte’s statement did not sit well with some senators, who reminded him that he could not just ignore his two co-equal branches of government.
The 1987 Constitution requires the President to submit a report within 48 hours of declaration to Congress, which has the power to either revoke or extend martial law through joint voting.
It also states that the SC may review the “sufficiency of the factual basis” of the proclamation of martial law in an “appropriate proceeding filed by any citizen.”
Pimentel’s father, former Senate president Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr, is a human rights lawyer and a victim of the military rule under the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao on May 23, following clashes between government forces and Maute Group terrorists in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur. The Constitution says it should not last more than 60 days.